The NFLPA are flexing their muscles in hopes of strong-arming the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys into agreeing to mega-contract extensions with their respective franchise tagged receivers—Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant.
The players union has threatened to officially charge Denver and Dallas with “collusion” on the unresolved Thomas and Bryant negotiations, if they don’t agree to terms on huge extensions by the deadline tomorrow. According to Pro Football Talk, the evidence for "collusion" centers around a verbal conversation in Dallas.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Jones explained to Bryant that the Calvin Johnson contract, which represents the current peak of the receiver market, has no relevance to other receivers because it was driven by the pre-rookie wage scale deal that Johnson signed when he was drafted by the Lions in 2007. And then Jones told Dez, per the source, that Jones talked to Broncos G.M. John Elway about the situation.
Because the Broncos also have a franchise-tagged receiver in Demaryius Thomas, the admission that Jones and Elway communicated about the situation constitutes evidence of collusion.
The Jones in question is Stephen Jones, the Cowboys COO. For the record, according to multiple sources, Jones denies ever having this conversation with Bryant.
It does seem a tad hypocritical that the NFLPA is threatening action, only if the teams don’t find a way to extend their respective franchise players before the deadline. If the Broncos and Cowboys colluded, it shouldn’t matter whether negotiations result in the players getting the contracts they desire.
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Such is the nature of politics. It bears mentioning that collusion happens in the NFL on the regular, between players and agents. It’s a big no-no if the teams do it, however.
In this case, if the NFLPA’s evidence truly does hinge upon a verbal conversation between Jones and Bryant, it will be very difficult to prove, which brings us back to the whole strong-arming thing.
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Yesterday, news broke that the Broncos have offered Thomas a contract extension that would make him the second-highest paid receiver in the NFL, behind only Calvin Johnson, who will make $16.2M in 2015, based on a rookie wage-scale that was made obsolete, following the 2011 lockout when the players and owners agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which limits rookie wages.
Nevertheless, Thomas wants to be the highest-paid in the league and it’s doubtful John Elway and the Broncos will allow themselves to be pushed or manipulated into making that kind of deal. Thomas should quit while he’s ahead and take the money.
Obviously, the Broncos signed Thomas on Wednesday to a five-year $70M deal, with $43.5M guaranteed. They also commented on the NFLPA allegations for the first time today, via Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
"The suggestion that our club may have colluded with another team about a negotiation is completely false and without merit," the Broncos said in a statement released to The Post.